Ferrari just lacked pace in qualifying, says Leclerc

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Ferrari fast-tracked some key upgrades from Silverstone to this weekend's Barcelona race, but their efforts were not enough for the Scuderia to beat the other three leading rivals, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes.

Following a closely-matched qualifying session, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have qualified fifth and sixth respectively for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc has had a tough weekend until the qualifying. He ran the SF-24's standard package in the first practice session while he struggled for the optimal balance in the second one-hour session.

The Monegasque opted for a comprehensive setup change for Saturday which has put his car in a much better operating window. However, it was still only enough for Leclerc to take fifth on the starting grid.

"It's a bit disappointing, because we were further from pole than we expected. On the other hand, my team and I did a good job changing the set-up of the car completely from yesterday to today, which helped me to find the right feeling again.

"However, the pace just was not there. Our target will be a podium and if the weather is tricky, we will take any opportunity to go for something even better," noted Leclerc.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz topped the final practice which indicated that he would be in contention for pole position. However, he was unable to take on the fight with McLaren and Red Bull in the all-important Saturday session.

"Not an easy qualifying. I honestly think our laps were good, but we were clearly missing a little extra today to be further up the order. Tomorrow however, I think we could have an open race.

"We need a smooth start and with good strategies we can make up some places and hopefully fight for a podium, which would be the perfect reward for all the tifosi that came here to support us. We will do our best!"

Team boss Fred Vasseur was less disheartened after the suboptimal results from the Barcelona qualifying session. The Frenchman hopes that the additional set of fresh soft tyres could play to the Scuderia's hands in a race that is expected to be dominated by tyre management.

"Overall, it was a decent session even if, but for a few thousandths of a second it could have been better. But that’s part of the game and we have to accept it.

"Looking forward to the race we have to put everything together and I’m confident it will be possible to have a solid comeback from the third row. We decided to save one set of Soft tyres with both drivers for tomorrow and we’ll see if this will give us an advantage, especially on a track like this in which how you manage the tyres can make a big difference.

"We know it will be a very tight fight until the end of the season, with ups and downs and so our target must be to always score points. A plausible target for tomorrow? The podium," concluded Vasseur.